Death by meetings

Imagine a world where you only ever had to have conversations you were actually interested in.

Now think about a recent time when you had to sit through a painful conversation that bored the crap out of you.

I bet you were thinking of a meeting situation. Hmmm. Funny that.

It’s tricky to remember the old days without mobile and email. The days when face-to-face meetings were vital – rigidly planned, with meticulous agendas and clear purpose.

Given this is no longer the case – and the fact we have an abundance of collaboration tools at our disposal – it’s no surprise clinging on to old behaviours is causing mass boredom, frustration and chaos.

It’s a characteristic of this one-foot-in-pre-internet / one-foot-in-post-internet time: the stressmongering that stems from attempting to live in a new way, while clinging onto outdated practices. For example the fact we can work wherever and whenever demands that we’re always-on, but screws us over with a lingering nine to five show-face obligation on top.

Right now we’re bogged down in blinkered workstreams, causing massive delays, endless confusion and inefficiency by holding off for the next meeting… only to leave the meeting with conclusions that could’ve been reached in five minutes. Grrr.

Some of the most hyper-productive, ridiculously fast-paced projects I’ve ever worked on have been with people I’ve never met face-to-face. Yet we’re clinging onto myths about distributed teams.

How’s about experimenting with the Semco approach, where all meetings are optional? What if we acknowledge that meetings are a legacy of pre-mobile, pre-broadband times? What would happen then?

Well obviously it wouldn’t mean we’d stop spending time with people in our vicinity. That would just be weird. And pub strategy rocks.

What it would mean is we’d be freed from agenda-based boredom. If face-to-face interactions were optional, by default they’d be based on enjoyment. They’d be conversational, open and relaxed – optimised for creativity and joy.

Imagine only having conversations you were actually interested in…

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